I just received this from Fair Districts Ohio. Although, some may feel this is less than the total victory we were looking for, it is a bipartisan compromise that helps end the current process.
Our efforts are paying off! After years of advocacy and months of gathering signatures for the Fair Districts ballot initiative that would make the process for drawing Ohio’s congressional map more fair and less partisan, Ohioans across the state may have finally convinced the General Assembly that inaction on gerrymandering is unacceptable.
Yesterday, the Ohio Senate passed a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that meets the three standards our Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition have demanded from any congressional redistricting reform proposal. We have demanded that:
Both major parties must be meaningfully engaged in the process.
Communities should not be needlessly divided.
Maps cannot be drawn to favor a political party or candidate.
The proposed amendment that passed the Ohio Senate creates a bipartisan process that strongly encourages both major parties to cooperate and agree on a congressional map that better represents the views of Ohioans.
Here’s how it works:
Stage One: Passage of a map requires a three-fifths vote of both the House and Senate and must include at least 50 percent support of minority party members. If that doesn’t work…
Stage Two: Ohio’s existing seven-person bipartisan redistricting commission will be empowered to draw districts and must approve a map with at least two minority party votes. If that doesn’t work…
Stage Three: The legislature gets another chance to pass either (1) a 10-year map with one-third of the minority party’s support or (2) a four-year map without minority party support. If the process gets to the last stage not requiring minority party support, stricter rules protecting against unfair manipulation would apply.
Elected officials do not give up the power to draw one-sided congressional districts on their own. This happened because of your visits, rallies, calls, and emails, and because together we have gathered more than 200,000 signatures to put reform on the November 2018 ballot.
We are about to make history because of your hard work. The Ohio House will vote on this proposal on today or tomorrow. If it’s approved, it will go to the ballot for voter approval in May.
Thank you for keeping up the fight and pushing the Ohio General Assembly to do the right thing. Hold on to those clipboards and those petitions and stay tuned. We will let you know how things are progressing at the Statehouse.
I have been incredibly moved by the passion and commitment to ending gerrymandering and yesterday's action at the Statehouse make us one step closer to meaningful elections.
Thanks again for all your hard work!
Catherine Turcer, Common Cause Ohio and Fair Districts